Mother Tongue Essay

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Not all people who speak the English language speak it the same way. It is very uncommon to find two people that speak the exact same English because there are so many different forms of the language. This is the argument that Amy Tan makes in her story, “Mother Tongue”. Tan uses pathos to portray to her audience how through her experiences with her mother and the Chinese language she came to realize who she wanted to be and how she wanted to write. In “Mother Tongue”, Tan discusses the many ways in which the language that she was taught affected her life. Throughout the story, she describes her relationship with her mother, who speaks “broken” English, and how her perception of language has changed due to her mother. Whenever Tan was younger, she was always ashamed and embarrassed of the way her mother spoke because it would often sound weird and many people not familiar with her way of speaking found it very difficult to understand her. Tan described that whenever her and her mother went to a store or restaurant they were not treated the same as someone who spoke “proper” English. She said that the people “did not take her seriously, did not give her good service, pretended not to understand her, or even acted as if they did not hear her” (Tan 765). As a result of this, Tan had to pretend to be her mother, and she would have to call people up to yell at them while her mother stood behind her and prompted her. The language created a barrier between Tan and her mother but as Tan grew older she ended up embracing this “fractured” English because it was a sense of home. She no longer saw an imperfection in her mother’s tongue, but comfort, as it had become a part of her family. Within the essay, “Mother Tongue,” Tan discusses the power of language. She writes, “it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or simple truth” (763). One of the main points of her story was that words are more than just words; sometimes you have to look behind them and...
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